Asbestos is a known cause of pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer, and even has its very own lung disease named asbestosis. There is massive awareness about asbestos dangers in the United States because of its widespread use in building materials, particularly in homes built before 1970. What you might not know is that most older homes still have a lot of asbestos in them, and that you could be surrounded by it every day.
The good news is that asbestos, when left alone, is not a health hazard. It won't hurt you just by being ingrained in your home's walls or floors, but becomes a danger the moment its mineral fibers become airborne. This is potential bad news for planned home remodeling. Help protect yourself by knowing these five common asbestos sources.
Used in attics and walls, loose-fill insulation is potentially the most hazardous form of asbestos in your home. Why? Any kind of disturbance, even stepping in it or stirring it, can send asbestos fibers into the air.
Vinyl or rubber floor tiles
A lot of really durable tile has asbestos to thank for its toughness. Be careful with vinyl, rubber or asphalt tiles, especially those with dark colors. Remember that these are only dangerous if they're broken or badly worn. The floor tile adhesive may also contain asbestos.
Textured walls were all the rage about 50 years ago, and thousands of old houses have some kind of plaster molding or spackled walls. The paints and plasters used for these often contain asbestos, which can be released when you strip the old paint or destroy the building materials.
Fire panels and furnace gaskets
If your home has a fireplace – or used to – then you may have panels that contain high levels of asbestos. Because it's extremely resistant to heat, flame, chemicals and virtually anything else you throw at it, asbestos sheets were common around fireplaces and furnaces. The gaskets on furnace doors may also be made with asbestos.
Shingles and siding
Outdoor materials such as roofing and siding often have asbestos because of its ability to hold up to extreme elements for years. It's really tough to remove old siding or an old roof without breaking something, so this also poses a potential danger.
Always wear respiratory protection when you're remodeling or preparing to remodel an older home, especially in closed spaces like the attic. It's always a good idea to get an asbestos inspection before you remodel. If you encounter something that might have asbestos in it, especially loose-fill insulation, do not touch it. Consult an asbestos removal specialist. If you hire a home remodeling professional, such as First General Services of Colorado Springs, make sure they know that asbestos could be in your home.